PEARL HARBOR -- The crew of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) arrived in Pearl Harbor for their first scheduled port visit of their 2017 deployment, July 14.
The ship's arrival at its namesake location marks the first time Pearl Harbor has visited Hawaii since completing Pacific Partnership in 2013, followed by a nearly two-and-a-half-year long maintenance period.
"It is only fitting that our first port visit after a major overhaul and work-up period should be to our namesake, Pearl Harbor," said Cmdr. Theodore Essenfeld, Pearl Harbor's commanding officer. "After a 25-month extended docking phased maintenance availability and a year of extensive training and certifications, Pearl Harbor has essentially been resurrected from the ship she was in 2013."
The ship is arriving with various defense capabilities in its arsenal, to include .50-caliber Browning machine gun mounts, Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems, Rolling Airframe Missiles, and more.
"If you look at the phoenix rising on our ship's crest, memorializing the rising of our fleet to power after the devastating attack of Dec. 7, 1941, you can see how appropriate the symbolism is for us now," said Essenfeld. "We're not a new ship, but we feel like one. With all new systems, new capabilities, a new crew, it's like the ship is reborn and the crew is ready to flex their muscles, ready to do our nation's bidding. We're not looking for a fight, but we're ready for one if called upon."
The events following the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 represent the United States military's capabilities to recover from such a devastating attack and rally the troops to mobilize.
"As Sailors aboard this ship, we get the opportunity every day to represent the fighting spirit of Pearl Harbor," said Ensign Kris Rodriguez, Pearl Harbor's administrative officer. "To finally be able to bring her back to her namesake location, where so much history took place, is a very humbling experience. I know many of us are truly looking forward to seeing firsthand the place where so much history has happened."
While Hawaii is a working port for Pearl Harbor, with departmental inspections, equipment onloads, and scheduled maintenance, Sailors and Marines will still be able to experience Hawaii and explore Pearl Harbor's history, such as the USS Arizona Memorial.
"We've put together a two-hour remembrance tour, which will consist of a harbor cruise that will most notably include the USS Arizona memorial," said Command Master Chief Thane Douglass, Pearl Harbor's command master chief. "This is an amazing opportunity for Sailors and Marines from the namesake ship to visit the memorial for the first time in almost five years. It's a great chance for our Sailors and Marines aboard to really soak up the heritage and history, and really take pride in being a part of Pearl Harbor."
After visiting Hawaii, Pearl Harbor will continue on her scheduled deployment as a part of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
The America ARG consists of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD 22), and Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and more than 2,500 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the eastern Pacific Ocean and engages in joint, interagency and international relationships that strengthen the ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.